About Me

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Portland, OR, United States
I am finishing up my midwifery apprenticeship and plan to be a real midwife early in 2014!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Simpler Shepherd's Pie

I used to make shepherd's pie back when I was vegetarian, and I made a really good vegetarian version.  I used lentils which I thought was brilliant!  I still think it's brilliant so I still include them, but I no longer make the vegetarian version.  And I used to make it using about 5 different pots and pans, not to mention my mixer bowl.  I don't have time for all those pots and pans anymore!  I now make it much simpler, and I think it's probably just as good.  You can substitute any vegetable that you want.

And oh, yeah, this is probably more like the Hamburger Pie that I grew up with than shepherd's pie.  It doesn't have the traditional gravy, and instead uses tomatoes.  Which in my mother's version, was more of a cream of tomato soup (but not the nasty canned kind).  I just used tomatoes tonight, so that I would not have to dirty more pans.

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup lentils (I like the French green ones)
1 28 ounce can of tomatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced or diced
about 8 cups of trimmed, cut-up green beans
3-4 large potatoes
sour cream to taste
butter to taste
salt and pepper to taste
milk or buttermilk or half and half
about 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese

Cook the ground beef in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, and while it's cooking add the onion, garlic and the lentils.  When the beef is browned, add the tomatoes.  Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low and cover.  Cook for 10 minutes or until the lentils, carrots, and green beans are cooked through.  Salt and pepper this mixture.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pan with water.  When they are tender, mash.  You can mash them right in the pan if you have a masher, but I like to use my kitchen aid mixer.  Add sour cream, butter, salt and pepper, and whip, adding milk as needed.  It will really depend on the potatoes as to how much milk they will absorb.

Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mixture, right in the pan if it is oven-proof.  Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake at 400 degrees until bubbly and the cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Oh my goodness, of course I should update you all (all two of you) while I am here.  Because you never know how long it'll be before I come back here!

I have completely finished with classes, as of last spring, and am now in an apprenticeship!  I'm at a birth center, which is an hour+ away from my home.  No, I am not planning on relocating....Zach is too happy where he's at for me to do that!  More on that later.  The birth center apprenticeship is wonderful and challenging--just as it should be!  I have been to one birth so far--but that's about to change drastically.  Come the middle of December I will be neck-deep in births.  Christmas?  What's that?

Zach is loving school at Benson Polytechnic High School.  He is thinking about changing his "major" (yes, they offer majors in high school!) to communications, instead of electrics which is what he entered this school for.  He is really getting into computer programming, which is cool.  His sophomore year is decidedly more challenging than his freshman year, which I think is good!  He had an awesome freshman year to bolster him up and I hope he can rise to the challenges of this year.

Aaron is away at college!  (Okay, right at this moment he is home from college for Thanksgiving break.)  He is loving it.  I am adjusting.  It's kind of a weird adjustment.  I don't miss him like I thought I would--he was just so ready to go on to the next phase of life that I can't wish anything else for him.  But the dynamics at home changed.  And visiting my college kid at college?  Weird.  Just weird.  Oh well.  Something to get used to in the whole cycle of life.

Two days at church

Two different churches, but I spent time at church both Saturday and Sunday this weekend (which had become a rarity for me).

I was reminded yesterday while at the retreat given by Fr. Michael Oleksa of one reason why I love the Orthodox church: the belief in the salvation of the whole world, not just human beings (like the tradition I came out of as a child believes).  The whole creation.  God so loved *the world.*  Not just humans, but animals, plants, rocks, trees, everything.  And we are all saved together, not individually.  This is why I love my church.  We also discussed with him the ideas that fasting, which is what the church is doing right now during the Nativity fast, would be best adapted to the individual culture it finds itself in.  In Alaska, where Fr. Michael lives, the food that is cheap or even free is meat.  Fruits and vegetables are only come by at a premium.  To say that Orthodox Christians should only eat the most expensive foods during a fast is a little crazy, bordering on total financial ruin for some families, and certainly is not making use of local foods.

Fr. Michael also talked extensively on adapting to the culture which we are evangelizing, rather than expecting that culture to adapt to us (as has been done by missionaries in the past and present).  He told us many stories of the Alaskan native American people, and rather than seeing them as pagan and heathen and we must teach them the right way, he sees them as illustrating, beautifully, the love of God and the way we should be in the world.  I love that.

Alas; because I don't love everything about how my local parish plays out, and I am not accepted by my own church currently, I attend the Episcopal church sometimes.  And today I was reminded that I love imperfection.  Okay, I don't always experience it as love.  I was irritated that the usually perfect service at the cathedral was marred.  The first reader stumbled a lot.  The second reader obviously had laryngitis or something affecting his speaking voice which was very distracting.  Even the new priest was distracting--her singing voice is not up to the par I am used to in a good priest.  But even as I was bitching in my own mind about these things, I reminded myself that, hey, isn't this what I believe in?  I believe that all of God's people have a place in the participation of God's liturgy.  We don't have to be perfect.  This is what I believe, that our best attempts at worshiping God are good in God's sight.  Even if I sometimes have to remind myself.